Our survey on seaweeds – marine macroalgae – will add to the work of the few phycologists who have worked in this region in the past. Much of what we have here is unstudied and we can begin to help build a greater understanding.
Australia has one of the richest seaweed floras in the world with as many as 2400 seaweed species. The majority of these species occur in cool to warm temperate zone waters with lower seaweed diversity generally found in the tropical regions. The enormous length of Australia’s temperate coastline, combined with the sheer age of the Australian continent and a stable marine environment compared to other ocean basins, has led to an unparalleled diversification in Australia’s seaweed flora. Seaweed species in Australia have had a long time to evolve and exploit specific niches. Many Australian seaweeds occur nowhere else in the world.
A search for the current algal records of Twofold Bay on www.aussiealgae.org will retrieve information on 129 red, 8 green and 19 brown seaweeds. This is not a comprehensive inventory of all the species that exist in Twofold Bay and many more green and brown seaweeds are present.
Our knowledge of seaweeds from the NSW South Coast is mostly from the research work of Professor Alan Millar, who has been collecting seaweeds from this region since the late 1980s
Alan Millar has this to say about seaweeds on this coast: “For marine biologists, defining and exploring boundaries between estuaries, seas, and Oceans is important to better understanding the biodiversity of any given region. There are few coastal regions of this planet where such major boundaries are clearly demarcated and the study of these regions is vitally important. The SE coast of Australia is possibly the most important and clearly demarcated boundary of any marine bioregion on earth. Already the marine biogeographical boundary between the southern Pacific and the Southern Ocean has been determined as Green Cape.
The primary producers of this planet, the algae, are one of the main organisms than need to be studied along this coast and it is on them that the ecology of all others hinges for survival.”
We know that the great Bull Kelp (Durvillia Potatorum) is moving southwards. At present its range ends somewhere north of Bermagui. One of our first projects will be to identify its furthest location north in our region, as Alan Millar has observed its rapid loss in our region. This is one reason we have chosen this large, handsome (and easily identifiable) seaweed as the logo for our whole project – it symbolises the biodiversity here that is changing before our eyes. If we can help record what is here, we can give scientists valuable data they cannot hope to gather themselves.
We are fortunate that Professor Alan Millar has a special interest in this coastline and that Dr Nick Yee, one of his students, lives here and continues to pursue this interest. They will be helping to guide the survey and help us learn sound observation and recording skills.
We will be producing Field guides and organising workshops starting early in 2012. Already Nick has produced a Species List of 200 regional algae to help us in our identification.
Please sign up for further details.